Definition of pH Level
pH: “potential of Hydrogen.”
“pH is a measure of how acidic/basic water is. The range goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs of less than 7 indicate acidity, whereas a pH of greater than 7 indicates a base.”
Knowing the pH level of the water we drink is absolutely vital to our health and the environment.
Importance of pH Levels
Excessively higher or lower pHs in the water we use & ingest can be detrimental to our health. When water has a higher pH level (Alkaline) it can taste bitter, and give water a “foggy” look because of water hardness. That same fog can cause build-up in pipes and can lead to clogs.
A lower pH level (Acidic) over time can corrode and dissolve pipes and other substances. These particles can find their way into your drinking water causing a large list of hazards that we want to avoid.
How can we test our water to make sure it’s safe to drink?
The Environment & Cleaning:
What about when it comes to cleaning? Well, pH levels can actually help us clean effectively without using heavy chemicals when it’s not necessary.
Acidic vs. Alkaline
Acidic Cleaners (1-6)
Benefits: Acidic cleaners are used a lot in bathrooms to clean toilets and pipes. Because of its corrosive nature, we’re able to dissolve harder stains and buildups found in pipes.
Hazards: Because Acidic cleaners are so strong they can be very dangerous and you need to use caution while using them. Misuse of acidic cleaners can cause acid burns on the skin and leave permanent damage. Not only can it be damaging to your skin but also can ruin the surface you’re trying to clean if it’s not strong enough.
Alkaline Cleaners (8-14)
Benefits: Alkaline cleaners are used a lot in cleaning dishes and the kitchen. They’re great for dissolving greases oils and proteins.
Neutral Cleaners (5-9)
Benefits: Cleaners with a more neutral pH level tend to be milder on both surfaces. This also means they are less toxic; products like baking powder (pH of 9) are even seen as environmentally friendly. However, neutral cleaners are not a fix-all and aren’t strong enough to remove all stains.
What determines a chemical’s PH Level?
“pH is calculated as the negative log of a solutions hydrogen ion concentration”
In very simple terms:
Acids gain hydrogen ions and create hydronium. Bases are created by losing hydrogen ions and creating hydroxide. Each number represents a 10x change in the level of basicness or acidity.